Christians in Canada and around the world celebrate the Nativity, the birth of the Christ. Christians believe that Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem, in Roman occupied Israel roughly 2000 years ago, was the Messiah, the long awaited saviour promised by God.The Hebrew word Messiah translates to Greek as Khristos, from which we get the anglicized form, Christ. Christians believe that God became one of us in the person of Jesus, or Emanuel, literally “God With Us.”Over the course of the last century, Christmas has grown from a strictly Christian festival to become a secular holiday celebrated by people of many different religions, cultures and worldviews from all over the planet. For some, Santa Claus, stockings and gift-giving are central to Christmas. To others, it is a much needed rest at the coldest and darkest time of year. Some may agree with the Grinch, who simply hated Christmas, or with Ebenezer Scrooge when he said it was a “Humbug” — although both of them changed their positions in the end!
Whether you are celebrating the birth of the Christ with your family and friends, or observe Christmas as a strictly secular event, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.'” from the Book of Luke, Chapter 2
Winter begins in the northern hemisphere on this, the shortest day of the year. In traditional pagan cultures, this time of the year represented darkness giving way to light, and death giving way to life. The dark and cold had reached its nadir. Henceforth the days would grow longer and warmer. Hope was restored. Many of the festivals and celebrations that take place at this time of year, from many different cultures, follow this theme.
For more on this and other winter observances and feasts, check out our display: Holidays and Holy Days.
With heart warming traditions such as the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength,” Festivus is a holiday which owes its popularity to the sitcom “Seinfeld.” For more on this secular anti-celebration, click here.
Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture. Celebrated from 26 December thru 1 January, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language. ”
This 9 day festival is central to Navidad (Christmas) celebrations in Mexico. This is a neighbourhood festival that commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph, who could not find posadas, (Spanish for “lodging”) before the birth of Jesus. A procession, including people dressed as Angels, Saints and the Holy Family, marches through the neighbourhood, knocking on doors looking for a place to stay. Like Mary and Joseph, they are refused, until finally the parade ends at one home where they are welcomed in. Feasting ensues, including a pinata for the children.
Be sure to check out our display, “Holidays & Holy Days.”
Jews in Canada and around the world celebrate Hanukkah starting at sundown tonight. The Festival of Lights is a celebration of God’s deliverance and provision. The event began in remembrance of Maccabean revolt in the 2nd Century BCE, when the Hebrews recaptured the Temple in Jerusalem, the spiritual centre of Judaism. Each candle of the Menorah is lit, one per day for the 8 day Festival. Like all Jewish Holy Days, which follow the lunar Hebrew Calendar, Hanukkah can occur anytime from late November to late December according to the Gregorian Calendar. This year Hanukkah will conclude on the evening of December 20. For more information on Hanukkah, check out some of the following:
On this day in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
The religion known as Buddhism dates back to the 6th or 5th Century BCE, when the Indian Prince Siddhartha Gautama became the “Buddha,” literally, “the Enlightened One.” The followers of the Mahayana branch of Buddhism observes Bodhi Day in celebration of the day that the Buddha sat below the Bodhi Tree and meditated on the meaning of life. Bodhi Day is celebrated mainly by the Buddhists of northern and eastern Asia (in Japan the day is known as Rohatsu) and in countries to which those people have immigrated (such as Canada). For more on Bodhi Day and the life of the Buddha, click here.
If people tell you that Santa Claus isn’t real, tell them to think again! Saint Nicholas lived in the 3rd and 4th Centuries AD(CE). He lived in what is now known as Turkey, but what was then a Greek area of the Roman Empire. The legends surrounding his life grew and evolved over the years, eventually leading to our modern picture of Santa.
In much of Europe and in many parts of the world, St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6, or on another date other than Christmas. For more information, check out the St. Nicholas Centre.
The Holiday Season in the western world has traditionally been synonymous with Advent, literally the period of expectation of an important arrival. For Christians the season of Advent is about the anticipation of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ. In the Christian Church, on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, candles are lit as symbols of Advent.
Be sure to check out our display of books for “Holidays and Holy Days!”